Thursday, 29 January 2009

Tampon or sea sponge?

It amazes me how much money women are prepared to spend month by month to stem 'nature's flow'. The Tampon and pantie-pad companies are laughing all the way to the bank, whilst being very careful not to let on that there are other less expensive, but equally effective, methods of achieving the same ends.

You doubt me, gentle reader? Read on...

Suki Kent tests it

Do you remember the first time? I do. I'm standing in my bathroom dressed only in a t-shirt and lacey knickers, seasponge in hand, remembering the first time I tried to introduce an 'internal sanitary device' to my tenderest parts. That was years ago, but I think I've found the secret of eternal youth, because right now, I feel 13 again.

So here’s the deal. Rumours abound about tampons being dangerous. They’re certainly dangerous to my bank balance. One night at a friend’s house we’re having a whinge about tampon prices and she runs off and gets her (gulp) sea sponge. ‘This is what I use’, she grins. ‘You just rinse it out and shove it back up there. It’s the tits!’


Sounds tempting, I concede, but.....well, bit weird, innit? You want security when you’re menstruating, like the advertisers tell you, right? I mean, when I’m rollerskating around in my tight white hotpants, I need to know the boys aren’t getting more than they bargained for when they look at my behind. And for that, you need little hard, nuggety, secure tampons growing inside you like little secure corks.

But a couple of months pass and then another friend of a friend tells me she’s a seasponge girl too. OK, how weird can it be then, really? Next thing I know I’m standing in front of the mirror, scowling at myself because half of me wants to shove this thing up my fanny, and half of me doesn't dare.


I mean, how big IS it up there anyway? I look at the sea sponge, a little soft lumpy thing about 5cm long and 3cm diameter. What if it gets lost? I take a deep breath, just like I did the first time, at 13. If it gets lost, I can always send my boyfriend up there after it with a torch, right? So f*** it. (Literally). Up it goes. Comfy? Hell, yeah. I don't feel a thing.


Four hours pass. We’re in Catch sitting by the fag machine, drinking pints of Stella and discussing books and sex. That's the outside. Inside, it's bleed bleed bleed. I flex my muscles there and wonder if it's time. I try to hide a grin as I head for the toilet.

The loos are empty. Good. In I go, and in goes my experimental wandering finger. It's there alright, up beyond the muscly, ringy bit. I poke its squishiness. How the hell do I get it out???? Though several fingers have, at any given time, been Up There, I personally have only put one finger up THAT FAR, just to pop in a Lil-let. But to get this thing out, I need leverage. I need grip. I need opposable thumbs.


I try to pop the sponge out by bearing down, but it's not having any of it. (Good thing too, or you'd find yourself giving birth to sea sponges at all kinds of embarrassing times: at the library, in the work canteen, whilst cutting some shapes at your local discoteque.....) So it's the thumb / middle finger team in action, then. I grab a section of sponge, and pull. It slides out onto my hand: hot, moist, and, er, red.

Ew! It's a spongeful of blood! It's not blood like on a tampon, all sort of sitting on it. It's IN it. I giggle. This is kinda disgusting, but more than that, it's hilarious. Do I dare? Do I dare do I dare..... do I dare....... squeeze it?


The thought's no sooner fully formed than my fingers are flexing around the sponge. Inky red jets of blood squeeze out onto the white porcelain and I gasp and giggle. I'm grossed out and impressed all at once. I flush the chain and rinse the sponge in the water that shoots out, rinsing the blood away. I'm secretly impressed with the carnage. I know I'm supposed to be disgusted - after all, the tampon ads all tell me that I'll just die if anyone knows I bleed every month - but in a way, I feel kickass. Blood and guts and gore - people play video games to get this stuff but me, I got it right here.

However, my task is not over. The loos are still empty so I sneak out to the sinks. The sponge must be spangly clean before it gets anywhere near my privates again. Hot water and soapy bubbles flow through the sponge, and the blood washes away down the sink. Then: agggh! The door! I turn the tap off, hide the sponge in my hand, and leg it back into the stall. Then I put the sponge up inside me again. I’m done.


I'm smiling as I walk back through the pub, past the chiller cabinet full of quiches, past the leering men in shorts, back to my companions. They're still talking about literature, not knowing that I just faced nasty ol’ Nature, and won. I won against squeamishness. I won against rayon, chlorine bleach, and wasting money far better spent on fags and charity shopping than on tampons. I won. And you can too. Mr Sponge - the thinking girl's flexible friend. Go on. I dare ya.

'Borrowed' from:

For another alternative menstrual product go to:
Over the Mooncup

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